7 Hearty, Diabetes-Friendly Breakfasts Created by A Nutritionist Who Has Type 1

Written by Marina Chaparro, RD, CDE, MPH

If there is one meal I couldn't live without, it would be breakfast. Breakfast for me is not the typical cereal and milk on the run.  I enjoy starting my day with a big meal that is varied and satisfying. It turns out I may be doing the single best thing for my health, according to new research. 

A new study presented at the Endocrine Society 2018 found that consuming a large breakfast (specifically 50% of total calories) lowered fasting blood sugars, decreased insulin needs, and resulted in a higher weight loss (11 pounds more) in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.

This study is not the first to validate the positive health effects of eating breakfast. Other studies have shown breakfast consumption is associated with greater concentration, lower blood sugars and maintained weight loss. Even more, reasons why all of us and especially people with diabetes should follow the old saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.


Being raised in a Mexican household on the border town of El Paso Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, I enjoy having a large meal with at least 2-3 food groups when I start my day. Two key elements in my breakfast that never go missing are coffee and eggs. I eat eggs almost every day. It may be surprising to some, as eggs have been the topic of much controversy lately, but I find my blood sugars are much more stable and I don’t get hungry for 2-3 hours afterward.

Despite conflicting dietary advice on limiting eggs for heart health reason, new evidence shows no need to hold back on egg consumption. According to new research, DIABEGG study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming up to 12 eggs a week does not increase cardiovascular risk factors in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. These findings suggest it is safe for people with diabetes to consume eggs without affecting cholesterol, blood sugars or blood pressure.

Eat More Eggs

People are always curious about what registered dietitians eat. At times, friends shy away from eating with me for fear of being judged.  Trust me; I enjoy eating too!  Having type 1 diabetes and being both a registered dietitian and diabetes educator gives me the power to make the best choices for managing my blood sugars and health.  But that doesn’t mean I shy away from good-flavorful food.  My philosophy is: There is no good food or bad food; it’s a matter of balance and being able to enjoy food while still managing my diabetes. 

A simple rule I try to follow is to include at least three food groups in my breakfast: one protein, one whole grain, and one fruit/vegetable. This way, I avoid overloading on one single food (i.e. cereal) and prevent hunger and blood sugar crashes two hours later. This keeps me in check to include a fruit or veggie in my first meal.

The Power of Protein

The food group I never miss is protein. Research has shown that consuming a protein in the morning can lower blood sugars, improve satiety and help with weight loss. If you are not an egg person, no need to worry. Try including nuts, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese or ham, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast. If you are interested in trying out a big breakfast eating pattern, below are a week's worth of inspiration for every day “hearty breakfasts.”


Day 1: Spinach eggs with two slices toast and ⅔ cup strawberries. Starting my week right! This is a great way to include veggies in the morning. Merely add leftover veggies: spinach tomato, onions to my eggs. I’m a fan of good artisanal bread. I paired my eggs with a whole grain artisanal bread and side of strawberries. Of course coffee as well!


Day 2: Salmon Bagel Breakfast. ½ whole grain everything bagel with salmon and one scrambled egg, ½ cup berries. I call this my omega three antioxidant dose. I love this breakfast because it's so easy to put together and it includes an excellent source of omega 3’s plus antioxidants from the berries. I only have ½ of the bagel and double up on my protein. Great way to keep my portions in check.


Day 3: Vegetarian Breakfast. Sautéed mushrooms with garlic and cilantro, ½ cup refried beans, one egg and one small flour tortilla. I love having beans for breakfast. Loaded with protein, potassium, and fiber.  Sometimes if I don’t have an egg, I make a bean burrito and take it to-go. I had some mushrooms left over, so I included them with the meal. Veggies, protein and carbohydrates—three food groups in check!


Day 4: Burritos-to-Go. 2 small flour tortillas with ham, veggies and eggs, side of pineapple and ½ tomato with olive oil and salt. Like any other Mexican person, I grew up with tortillas. I choose the smallest flour tortillas, around 4 inches wide equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrate and 70 calories. I prepared scrambled eggs with ham.  Sliced tomato and added a touch of olive oil. This can be an excellent option to have on the run. Just wrap them up and take them to go. Pack the fruit and eat it at work.


Day 5: The Simple Portion. 2 boiled eggs, two slices of multigrain garlic rosemary bread and ⅔ cup papaya.  No time to cook, I just placed the eggs in the egg maker while I took a shower and grabbed some fruit and toast.


Day 6: Berry Waffles. 2 whole wheat waffles, two eggs, one small bacon and side of berries. Usually, on weekends, I make my own pancakes or French toast. I use whole flour and add seeds like chia and flax, but this Saturday I had no time. I simply grabbed some whole grain waffles I had, added two eggs, one side of bacon and my dose of vitamin C, mixed berries. I usually use very little syrup (sugar-free) and instead choose to sweeten my waffles with fresh fruit.


Day 7: Chorizo and eggs for brunch. Chorizo with potatoes, two eggs, and one flour tortilla. Relaxed Sunday mornings call for a special homemade brunch. Chorizo with eggs is a very traditional dish from the northern part of Mexico. I buy the mixed bag of small potatoes to avoid going overboard with portions. Just sauté the chorizo and potatoes with a little onion and wait until crispy.


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For Weight Loss and Better Glucose Control Eat a Big Breakfast